Consultancy on utilization potential of lesser-known timber species

The Tanzanian timber market is dominated by a small number of commercially well-known timber species. The country has more than 700 indigenous wood species ranging from low to high densities and out of these species, only a handful (about 20 species) of well known tree species are utilized commercially, and often for purposes which other known but equally suitable and cheaper timber species could be used (Ishengoma et al, 1998). These species include: Pterocarpus angolensis, Milicia excelsa, Dalbergia melanoxylon, Ocotea usambarensis and Khaya anthotheca.  The rest of the timber species in the country are lesser known to users and therefore lesser utilized.  They are mainly used by traditional timber users, locally.  Since properties of these lesser-known and lesser-utilized timber species are not known, it is difficult to promote them in national and international markets.

Apart from many timber species being not known to users, the properties or technical information on important timber species utilized in different part of the country is not documented, and therefore not available to users.  Lack of such technical information does not only hinder economical and rational utilization, but also market promotion (Lockyer, 1994).  This has resulted into over concentration on few well- known timber species, and consequently to over exploitation.  Following over exploitation, younger trees with inferior properties are now being cut to temporarily meet the market demand (Ishengoma et al, 1997).  If more is known on the properties of lesser-known and lesser-utilized timber species, some of these species could be found suitable and therefore reduce pressure on well known timber species.

This consultacy service under FORCONSULT was led by Prof. F.B.S Makonda

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